Smartcuts by Shane Snow

smartcuts book cover
Entrepreneur and journalist Shane Snow (Wired, Fast Company, The New Yorker, and cofounder of Contently) analyzes the lives of people and companies that do incredible things in implausibly short time.


  • Lateral thinking, find the warp pipes, do more with less. Super Mario brothers record 7 minutes, previous record 30 minutes, proficient 1-2 hours.
  • Rainy night, old sick lady, friend, you owe a favor and the once in a lifetime opportunity for romantic connection. You have one seat in your car; who do you pick up?
  • Momentum, not expertise, is the single best predictor or business and personal success

Chapter 1 – Hacking the Ladder

  • Bigger or better challenge: acquire something as large as a tv into a series of easier repeatable challenges. Small stretches.
  • Small wins: once a small win was obtained, forces are set in motion that favor another small win.
  • Ladder switch instead of going up the same ladder.

Chapter 2 – Training with masters

  • Mentors can pull you up several rungs of the ladder.
  • Learning from mentors organically is more effective than forced structured mentorship.
  • Ability to spot and learn deep insight from mentors makes you a first-class noticer
  • Mentors don’t always have to be someone you have access to on a personal level. You can learn a ton by learning about them, mimicking their actions as Louis CK did with Carlin and as Jimmy Fallows did with Adam Sandler.

Chapter 3 – Rapid feedback

  •  attribution theory says that people explain their success and failures “by attributing them to factors that will allow them to feel as good as possible about themselves”
  • further, since individuals tend to seek knowledge about themselves in ways designed to yield flattery results, even if someone were to engage in reflection after failing, he might seek knowledge to ~explain away the failure~
  • Whether feedback was helpful or not… the difference was how much the feedback because the person to focus on himself rather than the task.

Chapter 4 – Platforms

  • Finland schools: perhaps the most important benefit of having super-educated instructors is that a better-trained teacher teaches children how to learn, whereas the coach turned geography teachers who often teach how to memorize. Finnish education reflects dad: it focuses on teaching students how to think, know what to think.

Chapter 5 – Waves

  • Intuition is the result of non-conscious pattern recognition.
  • Through the liberal analysis, the little guy can spot waves better than the big company that relies on experience and instinct once it’s at the top. And a wave can take an amateur farther faster than an expert can swim.
  • The secret to great surfers is that they arrive at the beach early and they watch the swell and learn from it, and they recognize patterns.

Chapter 9 – 10x Thinking

  • 10x thinking is the arts of the massive swing
  • 10x goals force you to come up with Smartcuts
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